[OSM-legal-talk] Substantial meaning

Simon Ward simon at bleah.co.uk
Fri Apr 24 01:01:03 BST 2009

On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:42:33AM -0700, SteveC wrote:
> Basically, what do we feel substantial means when someone takes some
> part of the data? How much is 'substantial'? I won't frame the
> question further as I can see a number of ways and we, the license
> working group, would like to get a feel for the communities views.
> We're not looking for a legal opinion on that here, clearly case law
> one day has to play a role. Rather, what do we think it means?

I think it depends, which is quite unfortunate given that we’re trying
to come up with some sort of definition.

I agree with Russ on anything that matches a single criteria should
definitely be considered substantial.  I did try (not very hard) to think
of some counter‐examples (those that I would consider insubstantial but
defined with a single criteria) but didn’t come up with any (other than
using ids which identify objects stored in the database), but after
devising my example for deciding when multiple nodes/ways start to
become substantial I do have some possibilities.

If we’re clear that “insubstantial” is anything that is not
“substantial”, then using that to help:  I think a single primitive object
(node, way or relation) is insubstantial.  However, a way is a list of
nodes, and a relation is collection of ways and nodes:  When do they
these collections of objects become substantial?

I think definitely not until there is more than one object tagged (not
just created_by=) (though this in itself may not be considered
substantial).  To try and explain:

  * way 23644120[1] with its untagged nodes (256147816, 26431535,
    21092669 and 21092665) is definitely insubstantial.

  * way 4341611[2] with its nodes, some of which are tagged (26431528,
    359721186, 310688016) as mini‐roundabouts is getting towards being
    substantial (though I don’t think it is substantial, but illustrates
    a minimum requirement for something to be considered substantial).

[1]: http://openstreetmap.org/browse/way/23644120
[2]: http://openstreetmap.org/browse/way/4341611

Using the same area that I randomly picked[3] as an example (just
northeast of Shrewsbury), here are my opinions of what’s substantial and
what’s not:

 1. way 23644120 (part of A49) — insubstantial
 2. way 4341611 (potentially the whole of Sundorne Road), including
    mini‐roundabouts — insubstantial
 3. All ways that make up the A49 — unsure
 4. All trunk and primary roads in the Sundorne Grove area — unsure
 5. All highways in the Sundorne Grove area — unsure
 6. All objects in the Sundorne Grove area — substantial
 7. All highways in the Shrewsbury area — unsure
 8. All objects in the Shrewsbury area — substantial

[3]: http://openstreetmap.org/?lat=52.7315&lon=-2.7191&zoom=14&layers=B000FTFT

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a
simple system that works.—John Gall
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